I've been eating at Stan's for years, and I have no excuse for not writing them up sooner. I never seem to have enough time to write, and there are always a few places I've visited queued up, and every once in a while I just don't get around to actually doing the review. Eventually I find myself looking through my pictures and realize that it's too late. Too much time has passed, the chef has changed, I don't remember what the food tasted like...but that's not the entire issue with Stan's. I think that sometimes I am reluctant to write up a place, because that means on to the next one. As long as I haven't cranked out a review, I can always go back and try one more dish, take slightly better pictures, blah blah blah. It's a lame excuse, I know, but that doesn't make it any less true. And apparently it's a habit I need to break myself of, because it seems like lately places I've visited are closing before I get around to writing the reviews. Stan's played a little nicer, announcing last week that they'll be shutting their doors at their current location for good on 9/1. I'll repeat that one more time, because it's important: STAN'S CHAR-BROILED HOT DOGS WILL BE CLOSING THEIR RESTAURANT IN LESS THAN FOUR WEEKS. If you've been wanting to check them out but you've been dragging your feet, you might want to get off your keister. If you're on the fence, let's see what I can do to motivate you.
Does anyone who lives here and would be interested NOT know the Stan's backstory? I've read about it myself enough places that I'm not going to rehash it here, but in case you somehow missed it, check this out. Everyone who writes about this place harps on the Bronco sauce, perhaps because attaching the word Bronco to anything here is a no-brainer when you're trying to make a sale. For me, it's about the dogs themselves. There's a lot of ways to cook them: boiled, steamed, deep fried, grilled, pan fried, roasted, and of course char-broiled, the method Stan's uses and my personal favorite way to have them. So let's get the obvious thing out of the way. Here's the Jumbo All-Beef Dog, "Stan's Way" (Bronco sauce, mustard and onions)...
Now even as a fan of this establishment, I'm not going to lie to you; I'm not in love with the Bronco sauce. Every once in a while I like something a little different (a Chicago dog, for example), but generally my tastes are simple: mustard, relish and onions. Period. That isn't to say Stan's sauce is bad, it's just not my thing. THIS is my thing...
Of course, I did things backwards on my first couple of visits. If your interest is in the sauce, I'd say get the standard dog because the sauce is going to be the feature attraction. If you're just looking for a premium dog or sausage, then go with one of the higher-end options. Of course, even a standard dog at Stan's is special, as they are flown in from Buffalo. Then, of course, we have the side options.
The onion rings are another item that resulted from much refining and which get a lot of attention from the local food press. And they are good, no question about it. The only thing that could make them better would be if that crunchy, flavorful coating adhered to the onion slices just a little better. Trust me, a good portion of it will be crumbs littering the bottom of the bag by the time you're finished stuffing them in your face. Personally, I prefer the fries.
Golden, crispy and ever-so-slightly battered, these things go perfect with pretty much anything on the menu. Hell, if you want a conventional dog and still want to try the Bronco sauce, try dipping the fries in it. Trust me. Speaking of things that fries go well with, there are a LOT of Catholics in Buffalo, so there is a lot of focus on fish, especially during certain days of the week/year. Friday fish fry is a big deal, and while there are plenty of fish and chip options around Boise, none of them are quite like this.
|Haddock Fish Fry|
In Upstate New York, go to a place that does fish fry and you can expect to get one large, intact piece of haddock, lightly flavored and with a crispy but not at all heavy breading. There's pretty much always a small side of slaw, a cup of tartar sauce and a slice of lemon involved. If you're a person who digs fried fish, you owe it to yourself to check this out.
|Check out that flaking action...|
This is the part where I intended to talk about another of my favorite menu items, the Beef on Kummelweck sandwich. Sadly this item has been discontinued due to an inability to get the quality of beef Stan demands for a price that would keep the cost of the sandwich reasonable. Sad, especially because nobody else around here serves it. Bardenay does have a variation on it, but my advice is to keep an eye open when you're traveling, because this is a dish that spreads out a little further every year. So, moving on, we're going to talk about something that you almost never see brought up on this site: dessert.
|Chocolate & vanilla swirl frozen custard|
Yet another thing that I loved about Buffalo was frozen custard, which is basically ice cream with the addition of egg yolks, which makes the whole thing smoother and richer. It's decadently delicoius. Until recently, Stan's was the only place to get this stuff, and since I don't patronize the other place that sells it I guess I'm just SOL as of 9/1. I know there has been talk of finding another location, and on occasion Stan's wife can be found out and about slinging from a hot dog cart. At the moment though, the most likely option for the future of Stan's is a food truck, and I'm guessing if that does well enough there probably won't be a new brick & mortar joint to come. And that means no more frozen custard. Between now and that date, I intend to indulge a few more times, and recommend that you do as well.
It would be easy to dismiss Stan's as another dog and burger eatery (that reminds me, I still need to try the Polish Bacon Burger), but you'd be making a mistake. The place is clean, the food is good, the staff has their crap together and the owner is an insanely nice guy. Stop in and see them while you can still eat their food indoors, it's worth it. As for what the future holds, following their Facebook page is probably your best bet.
Food: This would be good stuff even if it wasn't of a variety that nobody else around here does. But it is. A
Value: A little pricey for certain items, but the plane ride isn't free. A-
Service: There's nothing better than a group of people who care about their food and know how to make it well. A+
Atmosphere: Typical diner. The food and the crew are what makes it stand out. B+
Final Grade: A